Friday, April 12, 2019

World Class Wreckin' Cru

World Class Wreckin' Cru was an electro group, best known for its contributions to early rap and its association with Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, and Michel'le.

World Class Wreckin' Cru debuted in a club owned by one of the early West Coast DJs, Alonzo Williams. Before he opened "Eve After Dark" in 1979, Alonzo was one of the most popular DJs in the Los Angeles area. He began producing dances under the name of Disco Construction, named after funk group Brass Construction. Seeing the popularity of this new craze, he entered the market of running nightclub performances. The club opened with Detroit-born Andre Manuel aka Unknown DJ directing the music program whose main influence derived from an east coast flavour, Soulsonic Force, Orbit and Scorpio.

As the 1980s arrived, so did electronic funk, sampling drum beats fused with old school rap format. Disco Construction created a sub group called the into Wreckin' Cru which were the Lonzos roadies and later adding World Class it became the name of the recording group. Lonzo hired local DJs Antoine "Yella" Carraby and Andre "Dr. Dre" Young who later became the original Mix Masters for KDAY. The Wreckin' Cru also performed in various shows around L.A. including opening for New Edition as well as multiple shows promoted by Lonzo.

Alonzo Williams created the label "Kru-cut" which began releasing The Wreckin' Cru music through the mid-1980s with very minimal resources through Macola Records", a local independent record manufacturing and distributing company. The Cru released the single "Slice", followed by "Surgery" and a full-length album titled World Class. The success of their early releases led to a major record deal with CBS/Epic Records.  After being signed to CBS records Lonzo was asked if he had any other acts. After seeing Dre's cousin Jinx' group perform in a rap contest, a teenage group called C.I.A. (Cru' In Action) starring O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson, Dre's cousin Tony ‘Sir Jinx’ Wheaton and Darrell ‘K-Dee’ Johnson, who with Dre would record a demo tape called "She's a Skag". The group was then signed to a single deal with CBS.

After being released from CBS the WCWC went on to have their biggest hit ever "Turn off The Lights". WCWC was known as a dance and romance act with songs like Surgery, Juice, Cabbage Patch, Lovers and Turn Off The Lights.

By 1985 Kru-Cut had produced World Class’ debut album, World Class, with Cli-N-Tel leaving to control his own direction in life, leaving Shakespeare to step up to be the prominent MC as they signed with Epic Records. With this they released a string of singles and also their second album, Rapped In Romance.

World Class's success was building an army of fans in the underground scene and each member a valued reputation. At this stage the look of Prince and Michael Jackson's Thriller outfits were cool, glitzy purple leather suits, sequin suits not unlike the glam-rock look running parallel to this scene, Dre was growing tired of the image and considered Lonzo's direction to be soft and yearned to control his own expression in music.

At this time Dre was working on side projects for local entrepreneur Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright in the Kru-Cut studio and Ice Cube was enlisted to ghostwrite for the World Class single ‘House Calls/Cabbage Patch’ single in 1987 and shortly after, featuring Michel'le, (Dre's girlfriend) came out the slow jam hit "Before You Turn off the Lights", which peaked at #54 on the Billboard Black Singles Charts in April 1988. The last time Dre was arrested (after frequent visits) and thrown back in jail for failing to appear for multiple traffic violations, $166 was owed which would qualify for a warrant in 1986, Lonzo wasn't going to bail him out a third time, Eazy-E paid this out in return for Dre's production trade for E's new record company ‘Ruthless Records’. Eazy and Dre's combined collaboration of talent known as N.W.A. Lonzo released a further LP called ‘Phases in Life’ released in 1990 under Lonzo's solo identity. Later, remaining World Class members, Shakespeare pursued a position as a pastor. Michel'le dated Dr. Dre and released an album on Ruthless Records.


World Class (Kru-Cut, 1985)
Rapped in Romance (Epic/CBS, 1986)
Turn Off The Lights In The Fast Lane (Techno Kut, 1988)


Slice (Kru-Cut, 1984)
Surgery (Kru-Cut, 1985)
Juice (Kru-Cut, 1985)
House Calls (Kru-Cut, 1987)
Turn off the Lights' (Kru-Cut, 1987)




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